Thursday, December 11, 2014

Not your typical Christmas story

Saturday is our annual Christmas reading meeting at the Ozarks Chapter of American Christian Writers. When I signed up to write something, I had no idea what I would write and never imagined that it would be anything like what follows.
It is a little dark (like the night), a little heavy (like oppression) but with a glimmer of hope (like a shining star).

On the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving Day, the unthinkable happened. A vehicle crashed in a nearby community and four young men were killed. Several others were injured. I heard this story from a woman that is a close friend of the family of one of the victims.

I heard this story, this testimony, just nine days after the event. The wounds, the grief and the hurt were still pretty raw.

The call came late at night...don't they all. The woman left her young kids with her husband, jumped in her car and hurried to the scene of the accident to support her best friend. On the way to the rural site, she learned that her friend's son didn't make it.

When she arrived at the scene, she parked at a distance and ran down the hill to where the first responders were. She was desperate to find her friend. She was stopped to be identified. When the chaplain that stopped her determined that she was not a parent of one of the boys but a friend, he stopped her and got her full attention. He made her focus on him and told her that he was going to pray for her. When he finished, he told her that he was sending her back up the hill (where the parents were gathered). He told her that if she couldn't do this, to come back to him and would pray for her again.

The woman was there for her friend.
He was there to make sure she was strong enough for the encounter.

When she reached the people at the top of the hill, the first person she saw was the dad of one of the boys that survived. She was still looking for her friend. They saw each other through the confused gathering of people. The friend ran to the woman, fell to her knees and cried, "Thank God he knew Jesus!"

Even in the midst of this tragedy, she found peace in knowing that her son was safely with his Savior.

Later that morning my thoughts turned to another mother that lost a son many years ago. He died never having made a profession of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

And that torments her to this day. It has destroyed her life. It ruined her marriage. It cost her a relationship with a surviving daughter. She survives...but without hope.

I know that this doesn't sound like much of a Christmas story, but the hope and peace given to a grieving parent is why He came.

Without Jesus, we are all walking in darkness. Without Him, we are all helpless. Without Him, we are all hopeless.

He came on a dark night, to a small town. His birth was made known to the lowest members of society, the workers tending the night flocks. He was swaddled in strips of cloth and laid in an animal's feed trough.

He would pay the price for our salvation, ...and for the salvation of our sons and daughters.
He came to give us hope.
He came to give us peace.
He came to give us life.

We celebrate His coming because without it we are doomed to an eternity apart from God.
It is a tragedy if we don't take advantage of the season to tell the story of God's great love for all of us.
It is a tragedy that we don't tell the story year 'round and celebrate His coming every single day.

But the real tragedy is that, somebody's son, somebody's daughter, somebody's mother, somebody's father will die not knowing that Jesus came so that they could have eternal life.

I know.
It's not a story that goes well with the festivities of the season.
It's a story that brings us to a somber place; a place of deep thought and reflection.
It's a story that makes us want to hug our kids and our loved ones.
It's a story that needs to be told.
It's the story of Christmas.

For unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Merry Christmas.

John <><

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